Because We Are Starving For Good News

Dave · September 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Justin Smoak this week:

10 for 21, 1 2B, 3 HR, 4 BB, 4 K, .476/.560/.952

When he came over from Texas, Smoak was overly aggressive, chased pitches out of the strike zone, and generally not anything like the hitter he had been in the minors. Since coming back to the big leagues, he’s been more patient and focused on swinging at pitches he can do something with. This is the kind of hitter he can be, though obviously he won’t hit this well on a regular basis.

The sample is way too small to mean anything, but it’s nice to see Smoak actually showing the skills he’s demonstrated at every step of his career before the big leagues. The power and patience combination should allow him to be one of the team’s best hitters – he just has to use both in order to make the package work.


25 Responses to “Because We Are Starving For Good News”

  1. joser on September 30th, 2010 10:17 pm

    When he arrived he seemed to be two very different hitters, with different swings, depending on which batter’s box he was in. I haven’t watched enough of his current streak to know if that has changed at all.

    BTW, is there a way on fangraphs to get splits for “plate discipline” (O-swing%, etc) — by handedness, by month, or both? Granted, splitting up an already small sample pretty silly.

  2. Dave on September 30th, 2010 10:20 pm

    Handedness no, month yes.

    Go to the team page, then select whatever month you want from the drop down box. Click on plate discipline and you’ll get the team totals. Click on the Mariners, and you’ll see the players results.

  3. spankystout on September 30th, 2010 10:34 pm

    Yay good news indeed. Smoak did say in an interview he made an adjustment in Tacoma. He positions his hands slighlty farther away from his body. Since that change he tore up AAA and is having some success in the bigs…..Lets hope his adjustment keeps working in 2011.

  4. spankystout on September 30th, 2010 11:06 pm

    Actually I read about his hand adjustment on prospect insider. I was confusing that with his interview with Drayer when he got called back up about his adjustment to hitting to all fields again.

  5. Westside guy on September 30th, 2010 11:28 pm

    I realize we (okay, I) certainly have a results-based bias here – but Smoak really does look like a totally different hitter than when we first saw him. I’m really excited at the prospect of watching him continue to develop.

  6. Breadbaker on September 30th, 2010 11:55 pm

    The swing on his double tonight was simply a thing of beauty.

  7. maqman on October 1st, 2010 1:27 am

    He’s giving the warm fuzzies for next season.

  8. greentunic on October 1st, 2010 8:51 am

    The power and patience combination should allow him to be one of the team’s best hitters

    Agreed, but I’ll take it a step further. He IS the best hitter on the team, production wise (Ichiro maybe moreso talent-wise). I realize its a small sample size but what are we comparing him to? He’s our best hitter. 4th is the best spot for him.

  9. eponymous coward on October 1st, 2010 9:34 am

    An actual power-hitting 1B who is on the right side of 30? Wow, we haven’t had one of those since the 1990’s.

  10. Westside guy on October 1st, 2010 9:55 am

    Speaking of September numbers (and relevant to numerous sub-threads that’ve appeared here over the past week or two), I liked this rather cogent note from Jeff over at Lookout Landing:

    Greg Halman has now struck out in 32% of his plate appearances, which would rank second-highest in baseball were he qualified. Some numbers take a lot of time to stabilize around where you expect them to end up. Some numbers don’t.

  11. KDawg on October 1st, 2010 10:37 am

    While it is nice to show a great week like that, I believe the more telling trend is to evaluate his entire September call up. He hit roughly .320 with an OPS of .975. A little larger sample size, but it is an indication that the AAA experience had a positive effect on his approach. His patience at the plate is leading to better swing and better results. Let’s hope this carries over to the spring.

  12. maqman on October 1st, 2010 10:50 am

    I like what I’ve seen of him, I think he’s going to be the real deal. Halman not so much. Spring training next year should be interesting, just with what we have on the farm to look at.

  13. shortbus on October 1st, 2010 11:00 am

    Smoak was swinging at everything when he came over to Seattle…much more so than with Texas. It was clear from the O-swing% stats when he was sent down to Tacoma that he was not “himself” during that first stint. If I recall his O-swing% with Seattle was something crazy high like 60% at that point. Looked like a guy trying to do too much. (We gave up Cliff Lee for you…no pressure!)

    September performances can be deceiving, and a little too much of Smoak’s good hitting for my taste has come in Texas. So it was great to see him have a good game last night from the right side of the plate at Safeco against a decent major league pitcher. If he finishes out the season this way at home it will be sign that we might just have the first base position handled next year.

  14. Diehard on October 1st, 2010 11:44 am

    I really hope this is the real Smoak and this is a glimpse of what he’s going to become. The one thing I’ve noticed is that he is drawing walks, one of his strengths. He wasn’t doing that when he first came up and now he seems to be much more patient. Very good signs indeed.

  15. lubin_cuban23 on October 1st, 2010 11:53 am

    Smoak for MVP 2012!

  16. heyoka on October 1st, 2010 12:31 pm

    Ichiro leads off.
    Figgy regains pre-first half 2010 form.
    Guti hits as hot as 09, or hotter
    Smoak hits like Ted Williams

    …..Felix at DH

    I like our prospects for 2011

  17. eponymous coward on October 1st, 2010 1:21 pm

    I like our prospects for 2011

    Perhaps our prospects, but figure that we’ll be starting Smoak, Saunders, Ackley and Moore. That’s a lot of kids. One of them is liable to be a disappointment.

    We also still don’t really have an answer at SS.

  18. fermorules on October 1st, 2010 1:29 pm

    I, for one, am not too excited. This is the final week of the season with zero expectations in meaningless games.

    Let’s see what happens in April, when there will be pressure for Smoak to produce in a weak lineup. My guess is that he falls flat on his face. Because that’s what always seems to happen with our top prospects.

    One small reason for optimism is that Smoak does seem to understand the strike zone. And that’s been an orgainzational problem in Seattle where the Mariners have way too many one and two-pitch at-bats.

    Smoak buckled under the pressure after his mid-season acquisition, and I will need to see way, way more before I’m sold on this guy.

  19. lubin_cuban23 on October 1st, 2010 1:37 pm


    You have no eye to evaluate talent. You judge on others’ failures and expect him to do the same. You my friend, are a fool.

  20. gwangung on October 1st, 2010 1:41 pm

    One small reason for optimism is that Smoak does seem to understand the strike zone. And that’s been an orgainzational problem in Seattle where the Mariners have way too many one and two-pitch at-bats.

    That’s because previous regimes didn’t value that in a hitter.

    You might note that Zduriencik’s players (like Guti and Branyan) tend to be more patient.

  21. philosofool on October 1st, 2010 3:11 pm

    It’s also worth mentioning that his platoon split, which was much talked about, seems to have diminished significantly. People were all over that when he was traded, but his ISO is higher from the right than the left now, and last I checked, he did well from both sides in Tacoma ( is down for the moment, but he had a higher RHB OPS than LHB OPS when I checked there about a two weeks ago.) The sample on his platoon split remains quite small, but the modest improvement is reassuring.

  22. Duncan Idaho on October 1st, 2010 3:48 pm

    Smoak and his hitting has been nice to watch but I have doubts about him as a 3-4 hitter for next year. I hope the M’s have the players to allow Smoak to grow into hitting 3-4 and start next season hitting 5.

  23. GoldenGutz on October 1st, 2010 4:26 pm

    Another thing to look forward to, We are 1 loss or Baltimore win to lock up the #2 pick and get Anthony Rendon or Gerrit Cole.

  24. Westside guy on October 1st, 2010 4:29 pm

    It’s interesting to note that Michael Saunders, who was drafted by the previous regime, has been putting up pretty good walk numbers this year as well.

    Of course his strikeout rate hasn’t improved at the same time, unfortunately – if you were to just look at BB% and K%, you might not be able to tell which was Branyan and which was Saunders. 😀

  25. bongo on October 2nd, 2010 3:02 am

    “One of the team’s best hitters” isn’t much of an acolade. If “Marvelous Marv” Throneberry of the ’62 Mets were on the 2010 Mariners, he would be third in OPS behind Branyan and Ichiro.

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